Art is the lie that tells the truth
This is a quote from Pablo Picasso or Jean Cocteau, depending on who you ask, either way it’s probably worth thinking about since both of them were drop dead amazing artists who changed the world with their art. So what does it mean?
The way I interpret this is that in real life, lying is probably not a good idea, honesty being the best policy and all. But in art, what is truth? Truth in art is the power to make someone feel something that you want them to feel, or just feel something period. If you have to lie in order to do that then that’s kind of what creativity IS.
I always think of the lyric in the Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”…. “my ma was a toothless bearded hag”. Google it, Mick Jagger’s mother was neither toothless, nor bearded, nor hag-like. She was a proper English mum. Does that mean the song is a lie and therefore a bad piece of art?
In my opinion, NO. The point of that song is to make the listener want to jump up and run around, maybe do some vandalism or burn something and it was (and is) very successful at making people do that. THAT is the “truth” of the song and any way of getting that across is valid.
We’re not just making documentary films here kids. We’re making art: Fiction. Is a work of fiction inherently less valid because it’s not “true” like a work of non-fiction? Of course not. So I TOTALLY disagree with people who say “write what you know”. NO, write what you feel and what you can imagine unless your life is so awesome that we all want to read your diary; and trust me, we don’t. I know you don’t want to read mine (“got up, showered, drank too much coffee, edited drums on Pro Tools, watched a TV show, went to bed”). Who cares???? Art is the lie that tells the truth….
If I write a song that makes you cry, then that’s a good song. The artist decides what emotional truth he/she is trying to convey and any way they can take that truth and inject it into the audience is a good thing. By the time I get to the second verse of a song I’m writing, the song is about the song; it might start with an idea from something or someone I know but at a certain point I’m going to take it wherever it goes to serve the FEELING I’m trying to get across.
So, what do you think? Does art have to be factual to be good?